While Bassetlaw Food Bank is mostly made up of volunteers they do have two paid members of staff who oversee all admin aspects of the food bank and ensure the smooth running of everything from client referrals to the volunteers dropping off the food parcels at people’s houses.
Meet Robert, Bassetlaw Food Bank’s Manager who started work with the charity in November of last year.
Can you give us an example of a day in your life at Bassetlaw Food Bank?
A typical day involves overseeing the day-to-day operations of the food hub and the distribution of food parcels to those in crisis. I also spend time looking at the strategy for the charity and developing projects to achieve those goals in line with the trustees’ direction. A good example of this is the Fruit and Veg’ Box scheme that the charity launched to promote healthier eating options, and I am currently developing the idea of an online shop for the charity to generate revenue to support future projects.
What is your favourite part of the job?
I love working at the food bank as it allows me to use the skills I have acquired during my working life to make a real difference in my local community. I also get to spend time with the amazing volunteers that are an inspiration.
What’s changed since you started?
Well, I love change. I am a firm believer in trying things and if it works and makes it better then brilliant… if it doesn’t work, go back to what you were doing and learn from the experience. As a charity trying to make a difference to Bassetlaw residents we need to try new ideas and look at what can impact food poverty in Bassetlaw.
What is something you want the general public to know about food banks in general?
I think in terms of what I would like people to know about food banks – to me we are just a sticking plaster. The causes that get people to the point where they need a food bank are complex and varied. The small gesture of feeding someone when they are in need makes a massive difference and shows that as a community we care. The solutions to the problems need to come from politicians, but the care comes from the community and that is what makes Bassetlaw a great place to live.
Meet Ellen, Bassetlaw Food Bank’s Assistant Manager who began working with the charity in April of this year.
What made you want to work for Bassetlaw Food Bank?
I’d been volunteering since September, working part-time since January and in my previous job with the National Trust I was involved in raising funds and co-ordinating collections for the food bank for the past five years.
What is a typical day like for you?
Every day is different. I mostly focus on the charities’ admin work and our new subsidised Fruit and Veg’ Box scheme. Co-ordinating the Fruit and Veg’ Box scheme means I get to talk the service users and the feedback we’ve been getting so far has been brilliant so I’m really pleased with how the scheme is going.
What do you like about working here?
The food bank is always buzzing with activity and the people are great, so friendly and positive. I enjoy working in a lively environment, doing something worthwhile and hopefully the atmosphere of the place is reflected in the service we provide.
What’s changed since you started?
So many things! Robert is a whirlwind of productivity driving the charity forward. When I started volunteering the charity was operating out of a new location working from stacks of pallets on the floor. The warehouse now looks completely different and the operation has really settled in, the systems work and the team of volunteers we have are amazing. We’ve launched new schemes and are working on so many other exciting projects behind the scenes to support the charity. It feels like we’re on a really positive trajectory.
What’s one thing you want the public to know about food banks in general?
I think there are so many myths about who uses a food bank and for what reasons, but if the past year has shown us anything it’s that everyone’s situation could change overnight and ‘security’ is precarious. I want the public to know that we are here to help anyone experiencing food insecurity, and that really could be anyone, for reasons completely out of their control. There should be no shame or embarrassment attached to asking for help. As much as there shouldn’t be a need for food banks in the UK we are here for a reason and if people need our help they only have to ask.
Thanks to the managers, volunteers and trustees alike a wonderful and helpful community has been created to help those in need with continued support and advice regarding food poverty. If you would like to learn more about Bassetlaw Food Bank you can visit their website www.bassetlawfoodbank.org for more information.